The cast of A Raisin in the Sun filled a table last February 18 at the Black Awareness Association’s soul food dinner. Over heaping plates of BBQ ribs, fried chicken, catfish, collard greens, potato salad and cornbread, the theatre artists took part in Juneau’s Black History Month celebration, witnessing the community come together under the roof of the Tlingit and Haida Community Center. Sherry Patterson, President of the Black Awareness Association, introduced the group from the stage, remarking on what a blessing it’s been to see new diverse faces in this small town.
In March, Marcus Gardley was the new face. Perseverance Theatre hosted Gardley for a reading of The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry on March 21, as part of The Land Marks Festival, a series of events discussing place, culture and identity through theatre. The reading of The Road Weeps included many of the actors from A Raisin in the Sun, who performed on the Perseverance main stage. Also in the festival, as part of the University of Alaska Southeast Sound and Motion Series, local theatre artists joined Gardley to reflect on the themes of the festival.
For a place like Juneau, where the population is only as large as a major university, events like the Land Marks Festival matter. Six new faces at a soul food fundraising dinner matter. Gardley’s visit matters and the conversations that are igniting about history, place and our role in creating culture matter.
In celebrating diversity, we often delight in the tangible pieces of each other’s cultures: the taste and smells of food, the look and feel of clothing, the varied instruments of songs. The Land Marks Festival invites conversation on our identities that goes beyond the things that we can touch or hold in our hands. It is an opportunity to dive into the stories that shape our families, values and experiences. Gardley’s brave exploration of his roots and the place of his ancestors helps to open the door for these types of courageous dialogues.
Perseverance Theatre invites us all to reflect on our stories and the places we are from. We want to know:
How have the places you’ve lived marked your life story?
What markers have you left in the places that you’ve lived?
Be a part of the conversation at www.perseverancetheatre.org
For more information about The Land Marks Festival, visit www.perseverancetheatre.org.